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schoenberg concerto

We have been informed by close friends of the death, early today, of a significant figure in British music and public life. Marion Thorpe was 87.

Vienna born, she was the daughter of Erwin Stein, the music publisher and musicologist who became an early mentor to Benjamin Britten. She was one of the few people Britten trusted throughout his life.

A noted beauty, Marion married the Earl of Harewood, a cousin of the Queen and a Britten friend who was director of the Royal Opera. Living on his estate, near Leeds, she co-founded with Fanny Waterman the Leeds International Piano Competition.

When her marriage to Harewood broke up, Marion married the politician Jeremy Thorpe, whose career ended in the high courts.

She is survived by Thorpe, and her three sons.

jeremy thorpe


UPDATE: Obituaries (two days later) musical here and political here. A personal reminiscence here.

Renato Cioni, who died this week, gave an interview a few months ago to an Italian magazine, recalling his role as Cavaradossi in the most indelible of all opera productions. Here’s a sample:

On stage (Maria) was always caress­ing me, touch­ing my hair, cross­ing her arms around my neck. Maria mag­ni­fi­cently brought to life a char­ac­ter who was, in a way, her­self. She was a woman who was gen­er­ous and insec­ure. Her voice was strong and dra­matic, yet also sweet.

To read more, click here on Gramilano.

cioni callas

Alex Shapiro takes the place of Stephen Paulus, who is making a slow recovery from a devastating stroke. Details here.


The inimitable Charlemagne Palestine is let loose for the first time in New York tonight on the beast of instruments.

Palestine originally developed his organ technique in 1964 at the Unitarian Church on Central Park West, gave his first public performance in Holland in 1979, and has since played internationally on the instrument. In this concert he performs on one of New York City’s most distinctive instruments: the Aeolian-Skinner organ at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, known for its “American Classic” sound.

Doors open at 7:00pm. Concert begins at 8:00pm sharp.


UPDATE: Frrst review, by Allan Evans:

Charlemagne Palestine’s organ work conceived 50 years ago was first played here tonight. Hipsters strolled in during the opening, disturbing his sounds by their naive vulgarity. An hour of modal unfolding clashing with outside pitches released changing densities of vibrations that he subtlety shaped like a breathing with surprises. Some were raga scales. The layered sustained sonic blocks, often beyond fifty simultaneous pitches, were the most active music I’ve ever experienced. The performance ended as he sat in rapt silence for nearly five minutes, the church in darkness. Only an infant’s occasional sounds penetrated the calm that aimed to resolve the saturation. While receiving applause he held his drinking glass to salute the organ which he praised in a speech as the most remarkable instrument extant. He has performances again in April, reviving works that originated in the 1960s. Backstage, with cognac in hand, he joked about people referring to him as a Minimalist.


flute brazil

A popular character in a Brazilian TV soap opera has boosted sales of the instrument this year by up to 1,000 percent, it is reported.

Rosa Solinas, a former Arts Council flak, was supposed to save the orchestra.

The following has just been posted by another ex-CEO of the troubled band:

I rang Rosa Solinas at the Ulster Orchestra this morning and was

shocked to be told that she’s gone. “She’s achieved everything she set

out to achieve and has moved on to new challenges.” 




UPDATE: Rosa was in the job just 13 months. She cleared out a lot of staff and appointed a new chief conductor, Rafael Payare. He now faces a period of uncertainty until a replacement is found.

In other news, it was reported today that Northern Ireland’s arts minister Caral Ni Chuilin has not been to hear the orchestra once during her three years in office. The Ulster Orch consumes one-third of the province’s arts budget. Where the heck has she been?

Stephen Jay Carlton, 45, former executive director of the Peninsula Symphony, based in Los Altos, is accused of embezzling at least $240,000 from an orch of volunteer musicians. The total heist could be as much as half a million. Carlton has been jailed, pending bail. Details here. Full story from Janos Gereben.


j s bach Foto: Constantin Beyer / Bachhaus Eisenach.

This is the great man in old age, newly acquired and announced today by the birthplace museum.

j s bach


Naomi Lewin has tracked down the couple who bought the house that Charles Ives built. Happily, they have awoken to its historic value and decided to preserve its essential character. Their architects and planners are Ives admirers. Read and listen to Naomi’s report here. All’s well that ends well.


We hear rumblings from Ghent, where the international bass-baritone Gidon Saks has been informed in mid-term that the university will not apply for a renewal of his work permit.

His place is being taken by a nondescript local teacher. Students and faculty are unhappy. Apparently, this part of a new policy of Belgianisation.

UPDATE: We have received this message from one of Mr Saks’s foreign students:

…Mr. Saks told us from beginning of first semester that he was struggling with his contract, and that it always happened since he first arrived to the school 9-10 years ago.  In spite of that, he continued to work with us in the Opera Workshop (if you can call it like that, when we even don’t have a pianist and have to go seek STUDENT’S collaboration), where at the end he worked as director, vocal coach, hair dresser, make up designer, style assistant, lightning director, and even fell from some stairs trying to put something onstage and resulting with a swollen knee that was already gone through surgery, and with a wobbly pace for some weeks.
A punctual man, who was always willing to work with the students.  Who is willing to give us two voice lessons per week, when the school just pays him one.  He didn’t have to do all that extra work!  He didn’t have to be teaching us extra hours! He didn’t have to stay from 9am to 6pm almost without a break just to teach everyone who is willing to work with him! That is called passion, and aim to help young singers.  That is something that unfortunately is not found in all teachers, and sometimes lesser in the ones who ask a 150-200 fee!!!
I want my teacher back, and I am happy you posted that note, and I hope it gets viral and overcomes the stupid laws of the Belgian government.  What the school says is he wasn’t granted a working permit renewal because he didn’t have a title (BA, MA, even high school diploma).  But, SO WHAT????? What about all the work he has done in those past 9 years?? Why they didn’t cared about his titles the years before?  Why now???? 

gidon saks, ghent

There will be a concert in Amsterdam tonight in memory of Kirill Kondrashin, the Russian exile who was named principal guest conductor of the Concertgebouw in 1978 and died three years later, on a day he was due to conduct Mahler’s first symphony.

His defection stunned the Soviets, who suppressed all his past recordings. Kondrashin had been a recipient of the Stalin medal. He conducted Van Cliburn to victory at the Tchaikovsky competition and formed a warm personal friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich.


kondrashin, shostakovich

Mariss Jansons and Valery Gergiev pay tribute to his genius in a Dutch radio programme. See release:


Amsterdam, 6 maart 2013

Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest draagt concert op aan Kirill Kondrashin

Het Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest draagt zijn concert van vanavond op aan Kirill Kondrashin (1914-1981). De

Russische dirigent en orkestpedagoog was van 1979 tot 1981 vaste dirigent naast Bernard Haitink. Beide

dirigenten hebben een essentiële bijdrage geleverd aan het spel en de klankkleur van het Concertgebouworkest.

Algemeen directeur Jan Raes zal voor aanvang van het concert een moment stilstaan bij de honderdste

geboortedag van Kondrashin.

Op het programma, onder leiding van Myung-Whun Chung, staan Beethovens Tweede symfonie en een werk dat

Kondrashin ook meerdere malen met het Concertgebouworkest uitvoerde, de Symphonie fantastique van Berlioz.

Kirill Kondrashin debuteerde in 1968 bij het Concertgebouworkest en keerde daarna regelmatig als gastdirigent

terug. Vanaf 1975 fungeerde hij als vaste gastdirigent en orkestpedagoog. In 1979 werd Kondrashin benoemd tot

vaste dirigent naast Bernard Haitink. Helaas overleed Kondrashin op 7 maart 1981 aan een hartaanval.

Ter gelegenheid van de honderdste geboortedag van de dirigent heeft de Kirill Kondrashin Stichting haar

vermogen overgedragen aan de Stichting Donateurs Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest. Sinds Kondrashins dood

heeft de Kirill Kondrashin Stichting zijn naam en het gedachtengoed uitgedragen door het ondersteunen van

talentontwikkeling, bijvoorbeeld door het financieren van prijzen, boeken en filmopnamen. Het resterende

vermogen is ondergebracht in het vandaag opgerichte Kirill Kondrashin Fonds bij de Stichting Donateurs. Het zal

worden aangewend om Kondrashins naam in ere te houden middels projecten die de ontwikkeling van

uitzonderlijk muzikaal talent ondersteunen, zoals een masterclass voor dirigenten.

Vanaf 5 maart staat de documentaire Het testament van Kirill Petrovich online bij Cultura 24. Op is deze prachtige film over Kondrashin, die Hans Heg, Mia van ‘t Hof en Kees van

Langeraad in 1989 maakten, tien dagen lang te zien. Interessant zijn de interviews met de toen nog zeer jonge

dirigenten Mariss Jansons en Valery Gergiev.